For Fury Road’s fluid editing, Miller called upon his wife, Margaret Sixel, who had spent most of her career editing documentaries and had never cut an action movie before. ‘We’ve got teenage sons, but I’m the one who goes to the action movies with them!’ laughed Miller. 'So when I asked her to do Mad Max, she said, ‘Well, why me?’ And I said, ‘Because then it’s not going to look like other action movies.“
And it doesn’t. Compare the smart, iterative set pieces of Fury Road to one of the incoherent car chases in Spectre, for example, and you’ll see that Sixel prizes a sense of spatial relationships that has become all too rare in action movies. 'She’s a real stickler for that,’ said Miller. 'And it takes a lot of effort! It’s not just lining up all the best shots and stringing them together, and she’s very aware of that. She’s also looking for a thematic connection from one shot to the next. If it regressed the characters and their relationships, she’d be against that. And she has a very low boredom threshold, so there’s no repetition.’
That Sixel was able to whittle 480 hours of footage down into a movie that sings still astounds Miller. 'It’s like working in the head of a great composer,’ he said. 'Movies like this one — in particular this one, because it’s almost a silent movie — are like visual music. In the same way that a composer has to have a strong casual relationship from one note to the next, paying attention tempo and melodic line and overall structure, it’s exactly the same process that a film editor must have.’ Sixel, surely, is one of the greats.
Mad Max: Fury Road’s film editor, Margaret Sixel, is director George Miller’s wife. When she asked her husband why he thought she should do it as she had never edited an action film before, Miller replied, “Because if a guy did it, it would look like every other action movie” (x).
“The Mad Max films are a kind of modern myth-making, a notion that is present even in the way they treat continuity. If you sat down and tried to piece together a timeline for Max or his world over the course of the four movies, it wouldn’t add up. Instead, each movie functions like a different story someone is telling about Mad Max, the Road Warrior. He is an archetypal figure within a new mythos. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same sawed off shotgun that sparks and fails the first time Max tries to use it—what matters is that there is a gun like that, because Max has a gun like that. Just like Max has a leather jacket carried down from his days in the Main Force Patrol, and at some point he or someone near him will wind a tiny music box. In each Max story, there are certain symbols that are constant, like Orpheus’ lyre.”